PowerPoint Versus Books
Posted by Ellen on July 17, 2010
Kudos to Tom Kuhlmann at the Rapid E-Learning Blog for posting “Want to Build Better E-Learning Courses? Think Beer.” Not so much for the beer analogy but for defending (as I have here, in at least one past post) the rightful place that informative courses have in the world of elearning:
“You’re either viewing or doing. There are plenty of compliance and annual review type courses that are mostly informational. While we could argue that all all courses need to be performance-based, that’s not going to happen. Besides, the course is just one part of the learning process and sometimes all you need is information.
“It’s kind of like a text book. Some you just read and reflect. But some are workbooks that provide exercises for you to practice what you’re learning. They all have their place in the learning process; just like elearning courses.”
But here’s the thing: in his comment, Den DiMarco wrote:
“Based upon the statement “It’s kind of like a text book. Some you just read and reflect.” the question that occurred to me is this:
“For this type of information delivery, why not just create a text document or a rich text document using, say, Microsoft word?”
Here’s a great example of an answer (with thanks to Maddie Grant at SocialFish for posting the link) to Den’s question (which I haven’t seen Tom respond to yet): http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2
Paul Adams at Google posted this slide deck and I got all wrapped up in it (and it’s a Saturday morning, beautiful outside, and my bicycle is calling to me). It explains some fairly complex ideas around social networking design and does it all without audio, embedded video, clickable content, or other interactions.
What makes it more effective than a textbook or straight-out Word document is Paul’s use of graphics to make his points. His carefully chosen illustrations enhanced the text so that I could absorb what he was conveying.
And how is that different than a text document with pictures?
It’s hard to get a progression of images to work in a text document. But you can with PowerPoint, and Paul uses that to his advantage in this deck.
Yes, PowerPoint has its drawbacks. But when it’s used well, it can provide informative content when that’s all that’s needed, and be more effective than a static text document, keeping learners engaged through the entire presentation — as I was.